Retro Retreats

I host old-fashioned retreats.

An old-fashioned retreat is one with a rustic charm reminiscent of a bygone era, where guests can escape the modern world’s fast pace and engage in traditional activities like nature walks, storytelling, journaling, bread-making etc. Meals are homemade from scratch using traditional recipes and locally sourced ingredients. The retreat emphasizes slow, simple living, while being present in the moment, combined with plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, wild swimming, forest bathing or stargazing to connect guests with the natural world.

Like Leonardo da Vinci, I believe that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

These days, most retreats are bright, sparkling jewels in exclusive, exotic settings, often with a price tag to match. Nearly all retreats promise some or other sort of personal growth transformation, either emotional healing, spiritual awakening, increased physical fitness, stress reduction, relationship enhancement, leadership development, improved communication skills etc.

Groups are huge, ten to thirty people per retreat, and the retreat programs are busy. Accommodation is luxurious, meals are cooked by chefs hired for the purpose, catering for every possible diet, swag bags compete fervently for originality, excursions are plentiful, and additional options are varied.

My retreats are none of these things.

My retreats are like a soft, woollen, well-worn cardigan that you snuggle into every winter, that you wear year after year, just because it feels so wonderful against your skin, keeps you warm and carries so many happy memories. Just slipping it onto your shoulders makes you feel less stressed, it’s the first thing you reach for when you get home after a long day’s work.

Working as a medical doctor taught me that stress is either the cause or a contributory factor to a large number of dangerous physical and mental diseases, so during my retreats, I make sure my guests have ample time just to be…and breathe.

This has remained the primary focus of my retreats for more than a decade: to let my guests rest, relax, recharge their batteries, and…

Reconnect with Nature.

“I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank

Reconnecting with Nature is a powerful stress management strategy. Spending time in Nature can lower your cortisol levels and increase your serotonin levels, making you feel calmer and more content. It can also help you to sleep better, boost your immunity, your creativity (your problem-solving skills), and improve your cognitive function (including your memory.)

During an Esprit Meraki retreat, here is the sun-blessed and largely unspoilt southwest of France, you will have the opportunity to reconnect to Nature, guided by a small herd of Friesians and Falabella horses. Horses thrive in a natural environment, and spending time with horses enables us to immerse ourselves in Nature, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors, helping us feel more grounded and present in the moment, allowing us to let go of distractions and fully engage with our surroundings.

Year after year, my retreat “regulars” return to get their “nature fix” with bags full of carrots, for the horses, who recognize and welcome them with soft whinnies as they rush to the paddock the moment they arrive at Esprit Meraki.

Maybe it’s time to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, immerse yourself in the serenity of nature and to find solace in its breathtaking beauty? To nourish your mind, body, and soul at an Esprit Meraki Retreat?

Because simplicity is not about deprivation. It’s about a greater appreciation for things that really matter.

I was so happy to receive your newsletter.As I read it, I thought, “Yes! A soft, woollen, well-worn cardigan!” It seems to me, too, that we need more of this in life.

Personally, I am turned off by the brighter, fancier, shinier “retreats” on offer. It is not what I’m looking for and somehow seems to muddle the idea of “retreat” with “five-star luxury break.” The two are not the same, and, generally, it shows. In fact, many seem to be in opposition to the “slow-down connection” that many of us crave, and the high price-tags are certainly restrictive.

Fortunately, there is room for everyone in this sphere: People who want the exotic, luxurious, gourmet, entertained experience can have that; those of us who want quiet, time, space, nature, breathing and fresh food can have that.

Honestly, though, everything about your retreats looks marvellous. I haven’t been in a position to attend one yet, but I look forward to doing so. From what I read in your blogs, they offers the kind of luxury I value. Robyn

I have thought about you often since staying with you last year. I will say, I personally did not expect to find such a serene and relaxing retreat, even though it was advertised as all of those things, I expected groups of people, organised ‘fun’, queuing for bathrooms and noise at nighttime.

I experienced the opposite and more. It was a quiet retreat with just myself and the lovely Carmella, and I still think about the camino walks, your AMAZING food, our chats not to mention just enjoying the surroundings. To feel at home in a stranger’s home is testament to what a fantastic host you are and the thought you put into everything. I did not think at any point that I had paid too much for the experience.

It may be that the social-media generation we have now are looking for all of those ‘sparkly’ things you have mentioned to experience and to advertise. But authenticity is priceless, and I believe that’s what you have and what you are. I know that I would love to visit again and also do the full Camino, maybe next year. Sarah